Fear The Walking Dead’s season 7 timeline troubles show no sign of slowing after the winter break. Rapidly hurtling toward its eighth year as AMC’s first zombie apocalypse spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead has added fascinating new ingredients to its recipe in season 7 – the nuclear wasteland, war against Victor Strand, undead WWE, etc. Somewhat less fascinating is Fear The Walking Dead’s muddled chronology in season 7. Part one skipped back and forth like a broken record, using in-dialogue exposition to fill the gaps left behind. That meant important events such as Morgan’s submarine becoming the protagonists’ new base, and Alicia’s cult splitting in two weirdly took place off-screen.
With Fear The Walking Dead’s main survivors finally reunited at the end of season 7’s winter finale, viewers might’ve assumed the bungee cord timeline would be given to break. Sadly, AMC’s mid-season premiere proves otherwise. Last time we saw Alicia in Fear The Walking Dead season 7, she convinced Morgan to follow the zombified Senator Vasquez, vainly believing this corpse would lead her toward PADRE. Upon finally giving up that quest, she declared war on Victor Strand instead, deciding his iron-tight grip on The Tower must end.
Fear The Walking Dead‘s “Follow Me” picks up Alicia’s thread some time later (no more than two weeks, since that’s how long Morgan said everyone could survive at the submarine). Discovered unconscious in a barn by some good Samaritan, Alicia remembers more as the episode progresses and, once again, a large chunk of narrative has transpired completely off-screen. Putting the pieces together, a vague chronology emerges. Following her declaration against Strand in “PADRE,” Alicia apparently realized she needed an army to make good on that threat, so sought out Arno, leader of The Stalker group who were once part of her own tribe. When convincing Arno to join the fight against Strand failed, Alicia escaped and wound up in the barn, bringing us to the start of Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s “Follow Me.”
Just like the material Fear The Walking Dead was skipping over in season 7’s first half, these omissions feel like scenes we should’ve witnessed. Alicia’s reluctant decision to solicit Arno’s help would emphasize her desperation to win and the level of threat Strand poses, whilst better establishing Arno as an enemy in his own right also. Alicia’s subsequent confrontation with The Stalkers then carries the potential to become a tense, adrenaline-fueled standoff. Why such moments would be deemed unworthy of screen time is a mystery bigger than PADRE itself. Investing in Fear The Walking Dead‘s current storyline becomes more challenging than it should be when season 7 is only providing sporadic snapshots of what’s happening – and not even the most crucial snapshots at that.
Repeatedly jumping ahead (then filling any gaps with dialogue after the fact) also makes for a disorientating, disjointed watch, distracting from the actually-pretty-compelling yarn Fear The Walking Dead is striving to spin in season 7. The problem isn’t the material itself, but the structure and format in which that tale is being presented, which seems to believe a non-linear narrative is inherently classier than simply moving from A to B in a straight line. Fear The Walking Dead‘s ideas and characters hold immense potential – but that won’t be fulfilled while half of season 7’s pages are missing.